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Competing graft charges but little else

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 July 2015 12:00 AM GMT

With the ruling BJP and opposition Congress going for each other’s jugular in Parliament, the stage is set for washout of the monsoon session as well. There was much bipartisan acrimony in the earlier budget session as well, but the decibel levels are far higher this time with Congress vice-president declaring ‘no resigtion, no discussion’. The Congress is gunning for the heads of Exterl Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for their purported links with former IPL czar, ‘absconder’ Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan for the Vyapam scam. Normally, political issues concerning states are not raised in Parliament, but this time both parties are using every weapon in their arsels. So for either party, corruption in states ruled by the other is fair game. The BJP has counter-attacked by targeting the Gandhi family with yet another brouhaha over Robert Vadra’s latest Facebook post ‘insulting’ parliamentarians. Sushma Swaraj has threatened to reveal the me of a Congress leader trying to wangle a diplomatic passport for former minister of state and coal scam accused Santosh Bagrodia. Union Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman released a sting video purportedly showing Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat’s persol secretary haggling over bribes with some liquor barons. The recent conviction of Congressman PK Thungon, former minister of state in the PV rasimha Rao government, for misappropriating funds earmarked for a minor irrigation project in galand, has provided more ammunition for the gleeful treasury benches. This apart, the BJP has trained its guns on four other Congress Chief Ministers, ruling Assam, Kartaka, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh.

The saffron party’s top brass was out in full force while releasing a 64-page booklet on Wednesday, titled ‘Reality and Saga of Scams in Congress-ruled States’. Expectedly, the Louis Berger kickback scandal has been used to target the Tarun Gogoi government, which in turn is likely to muddy the waters in State politics in the near future. The man in the eye of the storm, former Guwahati Development minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, has warned media houses of court action for dragging his me into the controversy. Sarma was minister during 2009-11 when US magement consultancy firm Louis Berger bagged a Rs 1,427 crore water supply project in south central and north Guwahati. While the chargesheet in a US Federal court mentions an Indian minister and some officials who were bribed by Louis Berger executives, no one has been med specifically — an indignt Sarma has pointed out. However, this development has added a new twist to the intense speculation in State political circles over Sarma gearing up to move over to the saffron camp with a section of dissident Congressmen. The Congress now has lost no time in deputing CP Joshi, AICC general secretary in charge of Assam, to scotch all rumours of Sarma’s impending exit. The State Congress President Anjan Dutta is also at pains to present the image of a united house now. Meanwhile the saffron camp is agog with the open rift between State BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee and senior leader and Guwahati MP Bijoya Chakraborty, reportedly over Sarma’s growing political inclition towards the BJP. Thus it is that Assam and some other states are figuring prominently in the parliamentary slugfest between the Congress and the BJP. Their emphasis is on a showdown through competing graft charges, that ‘people in glass houses should not throw stones’. But there is no talk about battling corruption, or even the development in states figuring so prominently in parliamentary debate this time. Overall, another parliamentary session is headed for an ignominious end, with little business conducted and important legislations like the Goods and Services Tax bill still very much up in the air.

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